Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
The third and present Goldsmiths' Hall in the second half of the 19th century
|Date of formation||1327|
|Company association||Banking and commodity trading|
|Order of precedence||5th|
|Motto||Justitia Virtutum Regina|
The Company, which originates from the twelfth century, received a Royal Charter in 1327 and ranks fifth in the order of precedence of City Livery Companies. Its motto is Justitia Virtutum Regina, Latin for Justice is Queen of Virtues.
History and role
The Company was established as a medieval guild for the goldsmith trade, and over time became responsible for silversmiths and jewellers too. Only those clothed with the livery (liverymen) of the Company were licensed to trade such precious commodities within the bounds of the City. Whilst this arrangement maintained standards, it also became restrictive in an ever-increasing global market.
The word hallmarking derives from the fact that precious metals were officially inspected and marked at Goldsmiths' Hall, the Company's HQ. Today, the Company is one of the few Livery Companies still to play a formal role in its ancient trade. Until the late 20th-century, the Company retained paramount responsibility for hallmarking platinum, gold and silver, but successive parliamentary legislation has devolved much authority to Government departments.
Nonetheless, the Goldsmiths' Company oversees the London Assay Office, where objects made of precious metals are tested for purity, and then marked with an official symbol should they pass the necessary tests. At the Trial of the Pyx, the Goldsmiths' Company is also responsible for checking the validity of British coinage.